Drop The MIC: Music Industry Conversations

What it Takes To Manage Pop Powerhouses

September 14, 2020 Season 1 Episode 3
Drop The MIC: Music Industry Conversations
What it Takes To Manage Pop Powerhouses
Show Notes Transcript

We talk to the wizzes who manage Dua Lipa, Lana Del Rey, Hailee Steinfeld, Conan Gray, Lauv, and more artists we all love. So, how do some of the music industry’s most successful managers build their artists’ careers while also building their own? We give you the inside scoop on the indsutry and a behind-the-scenes look at how they got their start in the biz.

[00:00:00]Jay Lebeouf:   Welcome to the Drop the [00:00:05] Mic podcast, where we'll dive into conversations with some of the music industry's most established [00:00:10] professionals.

Like all of our episodes, what you will hear today has been created and curated by Stanford students who [00:00:15] are breaking their way into the music scene. 

I'm Jay Lebouef and I lead Stanford University's [00:00:20] music industry initiatives. Whether you're aspiring to launch your career in the music industry, are already a [00:00:25] music industry pro, or just curious to learn more, we've got you covered. 

Keep listening to hear from some of the [00:00:30] biggest artists managers in the music business. 

We chatted with Wendy, manager of Dua Lipa, [00:00:35] Hailee Steinfeld and Lana Del Rey, Colette and Steve managers of Conan Gray,  and [00:00:40] Steve, manager of Lauv.  

Thanks for tuning in, let's get into the conversation [00:00:45] ! 


Tony Rodriguez: Hey there it's Tony and you're listening to the Stanford music industry [00:00:50] podcast. In the last episode we heard from Emily Redmond and Trace Guzmán about the artist manager journey during the [00:00:55] beginning stages of working with artists to the later stages, as the artists continued to grow and become established. In this [00:01:00] episode, Monica will be your host, take it away. 

  Monica Tsien: Thank you, Tony.   hey [00:01:05] guys. It's Monica Tsien. In the final section of our podcast, we will be learning from the top [00:01:10] artists managers, who are the business drivers and strategists behind the artists. We all adore. [00:01:15] What does it look like to manage our superstar? Hitmakers our discussion will be [00:01:20] mystified, many questions people have about the music industry.

How do you get a record deal? [00:01:25] How do you get on the most popular Spotify and Apple music playlists? And they'll give us their [00:01:30] perspectives on what makes a great manager. I don't know about you. I'm excited to [00:01:35] find out what they have to say. 

 this podcast will be a closeup conversation.  about [00:01:40] music, record labels, streaming, artists branding, music industry, [00:01:45] relationship building, and valuable advice. We'll be hearing from Wendy Ong [00:01:50] co-manager of Hailee Steinfeld, an overseer of Lana Del Rey. Dua Lipa and [00:01:55] more. Eddie Wintle and Colette Patnaude managers of Conan Gray [00:02:00] and Steve Bursky manager of Lauv. Let's dive in and meet our guests and [00:02:05] find out how they got started in the business. 

First [00:02:10] off we have Eddie Wintle and Colette Patnaude with us. They are the cofounders of [00:02:15] expand entertainment and managers of Conan Grey Conan success story began on [00:02:20] YouTube, where he posted various videos, covers and original songs, which are all [00:02:25] viewed by his fan base as works of art. I'm one of the after mentioned fans since [00:02:30] releasing his first hit song, idle town on streaming platforms, Conan high sold out [00:02:35] shows, toured around the world and struck the charts again with maniac and Heather, he [00:02:40] released a debut album, kid krow, which debuted at number five on the billboard [00:02:45] 200 and has been crowned as one of the biggest new artists of 2020. 

Eddie Wintle: We're [00:02:50] both Conan's managers. We're Conan's management team. we are [00:02:55] involved with every aspect of his business and have been since he was in [00:03:00] high school. 

Colette Patnaude: I started managing YouTubers. I was one of the first digital [00:03:05] managers in Hollywood. then Eddie and I started our company [00:03:10] expand Entertainment our management company about four years ago now and came [00:03:15] together and had the goals of finding people with engaged [00:03:20] audiences online,  and then helping them grow up their careers.

And [00:03:25] Conan was the first person that Eddie and I signed together. and he kind of [00:03:30] was the person, who really helped to bring our vision of the company to life. ,we both come from traditional [00:03:35] Hollywood starting at agencies. So it's been fun [00:03:40] kind of working with people who are

entrepreneurial on their own, [00:03:45] right.

  Monica Tsien: We will also be speaking to Steve Bursky, founder of [00:03:50] Foundations Music and manager of streaming sensation Lauv, Lauv is known [00:03:55] for his innovative pop sound, creative release strategies and his honest, constant [00:04:00] conversation with his fans, which yes, I am one too. He broke out onto the [00:04:05] scene with the hit song. I like me better. And  has since then become a hit making [00:04:10] legend with the following songs. I'm so tired with Troye Sivane [00:04:15] and I'm lonely with Ann Marie. His other star started singles include who with [00:04:20] BTS and Canada featuring Alessia Cara.

Steve Bursky: My name's Steve Bursky. I [00:04:25] run a artist's management company based in New York and Nashville called [00:04:30] foundations, artists management,  that I founded back in 2004.

from my college dorm room. [00:04:35]

and really I kind of stumbled into it. I, I having no idea there was a business of [00:04:40] music  my senior year, I fell in love with a band who would become [00:04:45] my first client, I was kind of working from my, for my dorm room in between classes [00:04:50] and after hours.  and signed another few clients throughout college. [00:04:55] And when I graduated in '04,  decided to go set up my own shop [00:05:00] in New York and, kind of haven't looked back since then.

Monica Tsien:  last but not least. We have [00:05:05] Wendy Ong of Tap management accompany of sensations including Lana Del Ray [00:05:10] Dua Lipa and Hailee Steinfeld. these artists already down in music history for stealing [00:05:15] my heart for bending genres and creating endless chart toppers. These  superstars are [00:05:20] behind the smash hits. Summertime sadness, New Rules. Don't Start Now and [00:05:25] Starving. with Zedd and Sray Wendy has worked with countless other legends in the [00:05:30] industry as well.

Wendy Ong: I'm Wendy Ong and. I am originally from [00:05:35] Singapore.  I've only ever worked in the music business my entire [00:05:40] life.

  unlike a lot of people in the music business, I didn't really stay at one place. [00:05:45] And I guess that contributed to my experience, you know, I'm [00:05:50] pretty, all-rounder in that sense. I was lucky enough to  take on a role [00:05:55] at the old version of BMG and then at our sta, which was run by [00:06:00] Clive Davis at that time.  I got to work at the Met Opera in New [00:06:05] York and then EMI  rock nation   and  Capitol [00:06:10] records and 

I got to work with Sam Smith Outkast  the Strokes and [00:06:15] Pink and Alicia keys and.  A host of different [00:06:20] genres of artists even the Foo Fighters, Jay Z and Rihanna Jaden Smith  and [00:06:25] then Dua Lipa 

and then I got promoted a couple of months ago to [00:06:30] president of TaP US.  So I run the label and management arm of tap. [00:06:35] I also co-manage Hailee Steinfeld I also oversee the whole [00:06:40] roster not just Lana, but Dua, Ellie [00:06:45] Golding, Dermot Kennedy,  Hailee Steinfeld, and like new artists too, you know, [00:06:50] like Annika Rose, Moby Rich. And we're about to be launching a few [00:06:55] others that, , are pretty exciting. So I guess, yeah, that's [00:07:00] my career so far in a nutshell, a pretty big nutshell.

  [00:07:05]Monica Tsien: Thank you all so much for being here. [00:07:10] You all have incredible experiences. So to start us off, do you have any big [00:07:15] takeaways from your past? 

Steve Bursky: Yeah.  I think our industry is built for young [00:07:20] people with great ideas to kind of find multiple entry points.

 the best way [00:07:25] to get involved is by, by kind of jumping in. There's, there's a fearlessness I think, that young [00:07:30] people have when ideally they have,  when they're kind of young and doing internships and getting [00:07:35] business.

Wendy Ong: you know,  I think that's the first takeaway was even when you're [00:07:40] innocent and naive, like you really do think that anything is possible. And I think [00:07:45] that persistence, this story of like persistence and just,  [00:07:50] Doing your best.

And I think like if I was older, maybe it would have, I would have like, [00:07:55] thought about it. I thought like, this is so stupid. Who's going to hire you. Like, you don't know anything about [00:08:00] the U S music industry. You know, I didn't grow up with hip hop, but then with [00:08:05] getting the job, my job was to do international marketing for [00:08:10] bad boy, which was, you know, then puff daddy now P Diddy's [00:08:15] label.

So I think like within like two weeks, I'd never been to Europe. I found myself [00:08:20] in Paris with puff and his whole entourage. And, you know, it was [00:08:25] like the state of bewilderment, like  I don't know anything about [00:08:30] France or this market, but  it was the fake it till you make it kind of moment where I [00:08:35] knew, like I just had to  really listen and pick up really quick you know? 

Steve Bursky: frankly, [00:08:40] like most of the success stories you hear about. Young people achieving great things [00:08:45] in our business or jumping in without tons of experience and I think the playing field is really [00:08:50] mostly even

  you certainly have access to tick talk and you have access to the [00:08:55] streaming services and YouTube you know, you're as likely to find the next superstar as I [00:09:00] am. And I think that's what makes what we do so great. Certainly on the creative side, is [00:09:05] that the barrier to entry, you know, in the digital age and specifically the streaming age [00:09:10] has really lowered.

you see young people having remarkable. success [00:09:15] stories early on. You see young artists, you know, developing in a way that never [00:09:20] before could they have given the ability to make great sound recordings from their dorm room or [00:09:25] wherever they are. 

  Monica Tsien: that sounds like what Conan gray did Colette and Eddie, do you [00:09:30] want to talk about that?

Colette Patnaude: yeah,  Conan, built up his YouTube channel by himself [00:09:35] and did that all by himself and was able to garner an audience and make a connection with [00:09:40] his fans. And then we kind of stepped in as management to help [00:09:45] build that into something even bigger. And I think that's a big role of the manager is taking what someone already [00:09:50] has and just helping them really, you know, bring their visions to life

[00:09:55] Eddie Wintle: yeah, I mean, we are involved with every aspect of his business [00:10:00] and we're, you know, his closest confidant 

you're of course doing [00:10:05] business and building stuff in the professional world, but you're also becoming really close [00:10:10] to the person too. 

Monica Tsien: Steve, or Wendy? Anything to add to that?

Steve Bursky: ultimately our [00:10:15] job is to be partners with our clients in helping them realize their [00:10:20] goals in business and creatively.

Wendy Ong:  it's a hard business, you know, and you know, [00:10:25] we're not dealing with marketing a can of soup, some of the issues that surround an [00:10:30] artist, like positive and negative. they're not perfect.

And if you're a part of [00:10:35] their family, like you're gonna have to like, Kind of help them figure it [00:10:40] out, you know, 

Steve Bursky: Yeah. the reality is, is,  talents.  especially when you're working for [00:10:45] them, you know, they need you.

And that means. Late night phone calls  it's kind of a [00:10:50] 24, seven endeavor.  so, you know, it's kind of an interesting dynamic.

[00:10:55] we essentially see ourselves as the CEO of, of our client's businesses. So there's [00:11:00] no job, you know, too small, for an artist manager there's, there's [00:11:05] varying types of management companies.

Wendy Ong: Right. you know and at tap, I think the model [00:11:10] that Ben and ed have built is very much. About like [00:11:15] being, ,

being self-reliant right. Building a small team [00:11:20] around the artists and helping them, whether it's across social media [00:11:25] or creating content We have.  five A&R people on our [00:11:30] team. We have. You know, Hannah who heads up our creative [00:11:35] marketing, she has an incredible eye and she helps, you know, our artists, whether [00:11:40] it's.

Dua or Ellie and like putting together music, videos, and [00:11:45] artwork and putting the right creative people around them, you know, to help them [00:11:50] realize that vision or that music.  

Steve Bursky: There's certainly,  managers who [00:11:55] seem to literally handle everything for their clients.  we've built a really incredible [00:12:00] team between our two offices and really brought in folks to specialize in very specific [00:12:05] areas of our client's careers, 

Wendy Ong: and I also think that at the labels, you know, just while I was there, [00:12:10] I had so many artists that I was working with and [00:12:15] I only had time to be reactive and not proactive a lot of the times, [00:12:20] whereas in management, like, you know, the roster is significantly [00:12:25] smaller and it's all about building a small team around the artist. So you're not having to do a lot of [00:12:30] those things on your own.

  Monica Tsien: Yeah, I'd [00:12:35] love to hear more about record labels. What does a management relationship look like with [00:12:40] labels?

Wendy Ong:  I come from the label system.

I've worked at the labels longer than [00:12:45] I've worked in management, right. So like they're big corporate entities and, [00:12:50]  they have to sign a lot of artists and, there are good people and they are bad [00:12:55] people at labels as they're all at management.

And I think it's important because we as [00:13:00] management companies, we need the labels to help pay for some of the things [00:13:05] that our artists want to do. We can't do that because, you know, we're so tied in with the [00:13:10] artists that like their money is the money that we have to execute some of these [00:13:15] things. So yeah, I like to think of it as a partnership and where we feel that [00:13:20] something is lacking. Like we're lucky that we have the resources at our company to plug [00:13:25] in the gaps.

Eddie Wintle: I mean, truthfully, finding the right label for you is [00:13:30] all about, who you can see yourself growing with longterm. And,  the [00:13:35] most important thing is, is finding a partner who really believes in you. Republic was [00:13:40] incredibly passionate,  and, and was just, has been a wonderful partner, 

Steve Bursky: I think, [00:13:45] I think at the end of the day it's really about what's right for that particular artist. Again, similar [00:13:50] to some of the other things we've spoken about it, it's not a one size fits all. I think for. [00:13:55] Some of our clients, I'd say about half our roster is independent . it's more about the [00:14:00] flexibility and the fluidity that that can be had in independent career I don't think it's [00:14:05] about the model. I think, you know, different models work for different people but really at the end of the day, it's [00:14:10] about the vision and clarity of, of that, you know, artist and their brand. that I think [00:14:15] with that you can kind of be successful  in either set up. 

I mean, certainly,  there's [00:14:20] arguably a more robust global infrastructure at the major record companies and there is the [00:14:25] independent models.

I found the independent models certainly that we've chosen to [00:14:30] use,  to feel highly, to have a lot of the same offerings that a major would. [00:14:35]  I think a major would certainly argue that, that there's more power and more strength [00:14:40] in, in their system. And then there is, you know, in the independent model.

And the fact is, [00:14:45] if you look at the majority of success stories and you look at the radio charts, for example,  [00:14:50] it's still dominated by the majors. I think that, frankly, is less or reflection on. [00:14:55] The inadequacies of the independent model and more a [00:15:00] reflection of the lack of talent, willing to bet on themselves, or bet on themselves or good [00:15:05] guidance and a good management team in place to help drive it, you know, cause ultimately for Lauv [00:15:10] as an example, I mean, you have a massive global team.

 you know, we have a [00:15:15] partnership with a company called AWOL,  who kind of acts as the. global infrastructure and, [00:15:20] and really more and more is looking like a label while allowing the artists the freedom and the [00:15:25] ownership to, to kind of own their businesses.  but with those models, I think it definitely puts a lot more onus [00:15:30] on management to, in a way, act as the clients,  you know, label [00:15:35] president in addition to wearing their management hat.

Monica Tsien: So I'm a little bit curious about this. What's a good [00:15:40] time to start making decisions about major labels or going independent.

Wendy Ong: Anika [00:15:45] Rose, you know, she's. A very new artist, you know, she's only put [00:15:50] out not a lot of songs.

And when you're that new, [00:15:55] it sometimes becomes a disadvantage to, to get [00:16:00] onto a major label right away, because you kinda need to figure out who you [00:16:05] want to be. And when you're put into the mix and if [00:16:10] you don't get enough help and support and attention, then. [00:16:15] It's hard to figure that out, you know? So at the moment, [00:16:20] you know,  she's making music, she's putting out music, we're helping her.

[00:16:25] And yeah. You know what, it'll be a lot easier if we just upstream her to a major right [00:16:30] now, but  the artist has to be ready. Right. [00:16:35] Because it's, it changes the dynamic and. I think right [00:16:40] now when she is blossoming as an artist, like it's the crucial [00:16:45] time do you have just a few people around you, you know, support you and help you [00:16:50] define who you want to be, and then help you realize your vision.

Once you get put [00:16:55] in like a bigger pond. There's a lot of distractions. There are a lot of [00:17:00] opinions. So who do you listen to? You know your voice may get  muted somewhat. [00:17:05] Right? 

  Monica Tsien: I'd love to hear more about working with [00:17:10] artists on music. Like, I love to hear from you Colette, about how you and [00:17:15] Eddie have been working with Conan on his music.  

Colette Patnaude: Yeah, He wrote like his [00:17:20] first project, we can go back to Sunset Season, which was his EP.  and we were [00:17:25] developing that altogether, kind of listening to the songs that he had choosing what we thought was, [00:17:30] you know, the right creative fit for the EP, what we all liked.  Our [00:17:35] creative focus was just how do we make this the best project that we can. and at [00:17:40] that point, you know, the industry got wind that, you know, there is someone [00:17:45] making new great music. In town. and so that's when, you know, his team [00:17:50] started growing and he signed the Republic Records and it, it all happened that way. [00:17:55] 

Wendy Ong: I love working with new artists and just kind of like being there from the get go [00:18:00] and like seeing the, being on the journey with them, like, I feel like that is [00:18:05] very fulfilling.  And you know, at capital, I got to work with Sam [00:18:10] Smith who I absolutely adore and, you know, got [00:18:15] to see him right from the start of pretty much the start of his career. [00:18:20] through You know, him winning all those Grammys on the first [00:18:25] album, it was. Really wonderful. 

and it's great to, to work with already established [00:18:30] artists, but it's, it's a different kind of satisfaction that you get, you know? [00:18:35]

  Colette Patnaude: Yeah,  So it's like  in the beginning it was just really focusing [00:18:40] on, on the music itself and really hearing what the story is he was [00:18:45] telling and what it meant to him in his, that point in his life. Once you give it away, you [00:18:50] never know how it's going to be received or if it's going to go huge or not. So it's [00:18:55] like at the end of the day the goal with music in my mind is always just [00:19:00] to put, you know, the best, the best project out there, right?

  Steve Bursky: you [00:19:05] know, quality over quantity still.  I think you've got a release to have a consistent output of music [00:19:10] and, and, and  and visuals early on is used to establish a brand, but at the end of the [00:19:15] day, like. You've got to be releasing quality. And, and this is a [00:19:20] business of songs. So great songs win period.

  and frankly, like at the [00:19:25] end of the day, authenticity,  as, as you know. As you're developing your brands, your social [00:19:30] voice, your songwriting, like it needs to be believable and, [00:19:35] and you need to be able to sell it with your heart.

  Monica Tsien: totally. Eddie. You've also [00:19:40] mentioned that authenticity is a huge part of Conan's image.

 Eddie Wintle: Yeah, I mean, Conan [00:19:45] had that incredible connection with his fans, and it was hugely important [00:19:50] to make sure that that authenticity continue to shine through.

[00:19:55] And so I think that from like a traditional industry perspective, [00:20:00] the natural instinct is to try to make something more professional or [00:20:05] manufactured or polished. And that was sort of the opposite of our strategy. [00:20:10] it was all about maintaining that same level of authenticity. 

For [00:20:15] Conan. it's about enabling him to share his vision with [00:20:20] the world because he is such a complete artist. And, , he writes all [00:20:25] of his songs from his bedroom start to finish. And it's about finding a producer [00:20:30] who is able to, who he was able to get along with and really build out [00:20:35] the initial sound and who he's been able to grow with.

And, and we did that with Dan Nigro. And, [00:20:40]  you know? And then it's, it's really all of those early posters, all of the, [00:20:45] and continuing to this day, all of the visuals that you see, that's, that's him [00:20:50] from his bedroom stuff doing that stuff.  so he, he really is extraordinary. [00:20:55]

Colette Patnaude: all the imagery, all the, all the videos. Just everything kind of like built [00:21:00] from there, from like the initial things that he wrote. 

  Eddie Wintle: You know who he is as a person, [00:21:05] since he already had this connection with fans and the development of the music was so [00:21:10] closely related. And,  everything he puts out there to people is, is real.   [00:21:15]

Monica Tsien: Yeah, totally see that, steve? Is it the same for Lauv too? 

 [00:21:20] Steve Bursky: We're focused on just being true to himself and, and speaking. [00:21:25] Honestly, and that comes in terms of the songwriting and also [00:21:30] in terms of who he is in person and on social media. I don't think that will ever change [00:21:35] for him. It certainly does for some people as they start to gain notoriety and success. [00:21:40] But I think what has worked for him is his vulnerability and his ability to, 

have [00:21:45] a message and really kind of stick to that message and be able to stick to that message because [00:21:50] it's, we his, he's not putting on a show. 

  Monica Tsien: And I'm [00:21:55] guessing it's similar for Dua Lipa as well. Right? Wendy. 

 Wendy Ong: first of all, [00:22:00] Dua is her own boss. Right? And like, I always be like she, as an [00:22:05] artist has a really great vision of, you know, like before she even [00:22:10] made the album, she already knew what. The album was going to be.

she's the [00:22:15] real deal. She's a genuine artist with. A real talent for [00:22:20] music with a lot of love for her fans. And I think she does a really great [00:22:25] job of being true to herself and showcasing herself on social [00:22:30] media as well.

 Steve Bursky: yeah, you know, I think just for really for any artist, I think the ones [00:22:35] that you read about over a 30, 40, 50 year career are the ones that are [00:22:40] so, it's like super clear who they are. , it, it rings true and in how [00:22:45] you see them in public, you know, online certainly rings true and their [00:22:50] songwriting, those are definitely the artists that, you know, are able to do this for a long period of time. [00:22:55]

The interesting thing about pop music right now and just using the Lauv example since it's come [00:23:00] up, is if you go to a Lauv show, even though for only four or five [00:23:05] songs in the last few years have been on the radio, that he's had so many hits within his fan base 

[00:23:10] so you go to a show and from the first word to the last word in 90 minutes shifts [00:23:15] at everyone's sending. And that's kind of a beautiful thing because [00:23:20] historically in pop music, you'd go to a show and. People will know four or five songs and they took down for other, [00:23:25] you know, like it just was a different experience. you can have a big hit [00:23:30] without radio. It's just a different kind of hit, you know,  

Eddie Wintle: it's all about, it's all about what [00:23:35] fans, you know, we can't, you can't make something go viral. And once you see that fans are [00:23:40] really responding to it, it's exciting for everyone, you know?  you can see that Conan can see [00:23:45] that and he can say, you know, y'all are, are taking this thing, you know, totally viral. [00:23:50] This is amazing, you know, and that, and that can draw some more attention to it.

But honestly, there aren't, [00:23:55] there aren't that many tricks when you talk about, you know, people really connecting with the song. [00:24:00] that has to, that has to be genuine 


Colette Patnaude: yeah.  I [00:24:05] think from the management perspective. That's something I've [00:24:10] always tried to kind of instill is you build something, you create something, you write [00:24:15] something, whatever it may be, and then you put it out and once it's [00:24:20] out, like it's really just.

It's out in the world, and people take [00:24:25] things and they interpret them to make them fit into their own life, and at that point, [00:24:30] the art, the piece of art becomes the public's.  

Monica Tsien: so Colette [00:24:35] with audience connection, being so important for the music industry. can you talk [00:24:40] about Conan's fan base and how it translated from YouTube to the [00:24:45] mainstream music industry?

 Colette Patnaude: you know, going from being a YouTuber, [00:24:50] an internet personality, to a mainstream musician is a pretty, it's a difficult [00:24:55] task. one thing is that you never know exactly how your audience is going to translate. [00:25:00] , our first round of shows, we weren't sure if people were going to buy [00:25:05] tickets and come cause you just never know. Right. Until something is practiced and [00:25:10] proven, it's always kind of like, well, you think it could work 

and you [00:25:15] have faith that it will, but at the same time, you also have to be prepared [00:25:20] that it's not always going to translate, and you might have to shift your strategy but that's [00:25:25] the, that's the big thing is coming off the internet into a physical [00:25:30] space.

You just never know exactly like how that's going to go. 

 Eddie Wintle: for [00:25:35] idle town, the, the goal there was, was very much to [00:25:40] introduce Conan into the world and, and get that onto some initial playlist and, you know, on, [00:25:45] on, on different, streaming platforms. And, you know, it got the attention of [00:25:50] labels.

And that was, that was our way of being able to, to really show what Conan was [00:25:55] capable of. 

  Colette Patnaude: Idle Town it was such a great introduction and it's something that, [00:26:00] again, Conan just created and it was his first song that he [00:26:05] put up.  On streaming partners apart from just as YouTube channel. [00:26:10] And again, people just, it's a great song and people [00:26:15] found it and they loved it. And,   that was definitely a [00:26:20] great kind of kickoff for his music career.

 [00:26:25]Monica Tsien: So after a great kickoff, how do you think about helping [00:26:30] artists continue the success? You know, especially after a [00:26:35] big hit. I love to hear from you Wendy, about the time after Dua's success with new [00:26:40] rules.

 Wendy Ong: The challenge is to always [00:26:45] be fresh in your creatives, in your messaging, but [00:26:50] also not putting yourself out there so much that like your message gets [00:26:55] diluted I think you have to keep some kind of mystery there and I [00:27:00] think. 

like one of the things that, you know, we really wanted was, you know, she [00:27:05] shouldn't just be that kind of artist that can only have one song at radio. And [00:27:10] now she's got two songs in the top 10, that top 40 radio, you know, and I [00:27:15] think along the way, like we've been able to, convince the [00:27:20] gatekeepers that like, she's not just the new rules girl. She's not a one [00:27:25] hit wonder. 

  Monica Tsien: That is just awesome to hear  Eddie. How do you and collect [00:27:30] think about continuing success for Conan's music released? like, How do you [00:27:35] decide what songs to promote, 

  Eddie Wintle: in terms of the promotional singles, you obviously [00:27:40] want songs that are going to be promotional that they're just going to, they're going to be just that. You [00:27:45] know, we, we had a feeling that that maniac was, was that people would [00:27:50] respond really well to it.

you're always thinking about it and recalibrating and, [00:27:55] and figuring out what, what makes most sense in, in conjunction with the label.

  Steve Bursky: Yeah.[00:28:00]  It's about like, which is going to be the biggest, because we've had so many [00:28:05] big records post. I like me better.  

  I like to be better.  you know, [00:28:10] frankly, Spotify individually was on the forefront of identifying that record [00:28:15] as a, as a hit and really leaning in.

 Monica Tsien: Yeah. I've always been curious [00:28:20] about how artists get on certain playlists.

 Steve Bursky: So much of it's, you know, it's all [00:28:25] editorial, so it's all, it's not like a singular person who's going to just throw it in there as [00:28:30] kind of like a bro deal.

 we've got. A [00:28:35] network of folks at the major DSPs around the world. and [00:28:40] certainly some that kind of become advocates for certain clients and, and [00:28:45] others for others.  but no, it's very much a, a dialogue with, certainly at the higher [00:28:50] level,  client-wise with, with our partners at the streaming platforms, they're [00:28:55] obviously crucial to the success of.

Of our releases. So it's important to us that they're [00:29:00] very much in the know,  

 Eddie Wintle: it's like any relationship.   they are tracking your [00:29:05] progress, you know, and you're in touch with them and you're in touch with them. Every time [00:29:10] there's new music to release there, you're always updating them. 

Steve Bursky: also the [00:29:15] beauty of, of streaming as it drives catalog.

So. As you get further in your career and in [00:29:20] releasing music, that's the element of discovery. Then taking people back to the catalog helps, [00:29:25] you know, kind of catapult records that were previously under, under consumed. 

[00:29:30] technology, and just the natural evolution of the business has changed what it looks like [00:29:35] in terms of the business in general. 

we definitely try to build record really [00:29:40] strategies and song release strategies that play to the strengths of, how the music's been [00:29:45] consuming today.

So. if you're a good partners to the partners and, and the [00:29:50] music's great, you're going to find your way into those playlists, but it doesn't happen overnight. you know? [00:29:55]

  Monica Tsien: Wendy. I'm curious as to how this applies to Dua Lipa's career as well. [00:30:00] Is there a strategy when it comes to music release or streaming

 Wendy Ong: it's  [00:30:05] relationship building.

And that's not necessarily a marketing element, but, you know, [00:30:10] Before Don't Start Now came out like, well, first of all, on the [00:30:15] first album, like she has pretty much met, taken photos, shook [00:30:20] hands with every single radio programmer or journalist or person at [00:30:25] Spotify, Apple, YouTube, whoever, like she paid her dues.

I mean, [00:30:30] she, and this was before I was involved, you know, she's one of the hardest working artists. [00:30:35] Like we were taking meetings with radio [00:30:40] programmers, you know, to play them music directly. And if she couldn't be there in [00:30:45] person, she would make a video.

So that she could convey a message or [00:30:50] she would FaceTime it or something. I mean that even the, at, for her old label, [00:30:55] that people who have regular contact with her, she showed up in person talk to the [00:31:00] company cause they flew everybody from around the world at Warner and she [00:31:05] got to play the music and explain to them, her vision.

And I think it's [00:31:10] relationship building, you know, like I think that is possibly one of the most [00:31:15] important aspects of being in the business and you know, not every artist needs to do it, [00:31:20] but I think  the pop consumer needs all this, you know, [00:31:25] like they need to hear it on radio. They need to see on social media, 

Steve Bursky: there's gotta be [00:31:30] enough going on outside of streaming. obviously like Spotify, Apple music, [00:31:35] Amazon, and they're on the front lines of identifying.

You know what they [00:31:40] believe to be the next great songs and you know,  a part of it is definitely like [00:31:45] just taste and then getting off early. But also part of it is us being able to go show them a data [00:31:50] story from on social media or show them, you know, in Berkeley that we [00:31:55] sold out.

 building that story, that narrative that. Illustrates progress

[00:32:00] Eddie Wintle: you know, there's, there's a concerted effort and constant conversation [00:32:05] happening between everybody all the time. and so I think [00:32:10] that with an artist like Conan,  who, who is, you know, growing so much and doing so well, [00:32:15] it's,  a question of. you know, what's the right time

 in, in the case of Apple up next, it, it [00:32:20] really, it was the perfect time. And, you know, it's something that, that [00:32:25] we'd wanted for, for two years, three years with, with Conan. So it wasn't [00:32:30] something that just happened, you know, overnight. It was something that everyone had been [00:32:35] working towards for a long time. 

Colette Patnaude: Yeah. Well, from the management [00:32:40] side, it was a great accomplishment because,  eddie and I kind of are very [00:32:45] goal oriented at the same time.

And,  up next was one of them. So it was [00:32:50] very satisfying to be able to kind of check that box and be able to, [00:32:55] to have Conan, you know, fill that, fill that spot. This year, [00:33:00] right around the release of the albums. So for us, you know, you have [00:33:05] to celebrate, accomplishments 

 Eddie Wintle: Yeah, I mean, when it comes to all of these things,  it starts [00:33:10] and ends with Conan. 

the reason he's Apple up next. The reason that,  he [00:33:15] gets any accolade or, you know, gets any number of streams. Honestly, at the end of the [00:33:20] day, it comes down to him and the music and the fans early.

And so there's [00:33:25] no amount of relationship building and conversation having and you know, [00:33:30] pushing that that anybody can do. that will change the [00:33:35] conversation if, if those things aren't there, you know, it's a tribute to, to him [00:33:40] and how great he is that, that all these great things are happening

  [00:33:45] Wendy Ong: one of my proudest moments was, you know, being a part of Outkast journey at that [00:33:50] time when they put out speak box and the love below and helping to [00:33:55] break a really cool hip hop act that I personally already loved.

And, [00:34:00] I remember when they won album of the year at the Grammys, it was monumental, you [00:34:05] know, and I was invited backstage. And then when they won, like they pulled everybody [00:34:10] backstage who are with them in their dressing room on stage. And it was just like, I just remember thinking like, [00:34:15] this is the coolest thing that's ever happened to me

and it's probably never gonna happen [00:34:20] again.

So I'm just going to soak it all in right now. 

  [00:34:25]Monica Tsien: So let's talk advice. What should budding managers learn? And [00:34:30] what advice would you give to anyone looking to start out with artists managers? [00:34:35] 

Wendy Ong: I think what is important is a love for music. And, you [00:34:40] know, you have to be passionate because there's very little money in it.

[00:34:45] Like when you're starting out, and for a long time, you know, you're in it with the [00:34:50] artist who also has no money. So you gotta come to grips with that. And if [00:34:55] you don't have the love and passion, you probably should opt out right away. [00:35:00] I mean, if you do everything right, yes, there will be a payday.

Someday. [00:35:05] Right. But in the meantime, like while you're grinding, like you better [00:35:10] like be subsisting on something else, like love and passion instead.

 [00:35:15]Steve Bursky: Young people, kind of achieving great things in our business or jumping in without tons of experience and just [00:35:20] having a ton of passion and energy and incredible work ethic. And that's a [00:35:25] pretty lethal combo for the right person.

You know, at the end of the day, I think especially for young people getting into this, [00:35:30] so much of it is about just tenacity and, ability to just put your head down and [00:35:35] grind.

 Colette Patnaude: Yeah. My advice to new managers is [00:35:40] work hard. Use your time wisely [00:35:45] and only sign people who you really want to be [00:35:50] working with and believe in

  Steve Bursky: you know, ask for help. [00:35:55] Don't pretend you know things you don't. I think it's a very forgiving business for those [00:36:00] who approach it with a bit of humility. so that, that's definitely a big piece of it. 

[00:36:05] So those early days, I think it's important to kind of take that, that attitude that. [00:36:10] Yeah. No job is you're not too good for any early part of, you know, [00:36:15] any early job that you might have. And, and,  just being a sponge, more or less. 

[00:36:20] for me, like the early days were about surrounding myself with trusted advisors and [00:36:25] mentors and learning from people who, you know, I've been through it before. 

 [00:36:30]Wendy Ong: So I always. Want to pay for it. I want to help. [00:36:35] And, and I guess it's finding, you know, the [00:36:40] ones that you connect with who want to take the extra [00:36:45] time, whether it's just to explain something or to make an introduction or [00:36:50] something that we all have to start somewhere. You know? I mean, that's how it started for me.

It's [00:36:55] important to love what you're doing and to help others who want to do it. [00:37:00] you don't have to be in music to have that sentiment.  here's the way I look at it. Right. [00:37:05] Everyone that's ever worked for me, they've never just stayed an assistant. Because [00:37:10] we all have a role to play in  helping someone grow in [00:37:15] their career.

And that it's not just artists who need that, you know, it's, it's pretty much [00:37:20] like students and, or, or young people breaking into the business, like [00:37:25] it's across the board because a lot of people helped me when I was coming up [00:37:30]  yeah. I think that being [00:37:35] adaptable is very important, and. Just with business, generally things can [00:37:40] change. And being able to kind of like stay level [00:37:45] headed,  is very important.

Colette Patnaude: And not letting things shake you all the time [00:37:50] because things change, plans move, you know, someone says something and you have to be able [00:37:55] to kind of remain kind of steadfast and just know, you know. [00:38:00] That your purpose as the manager is to help see through the artist's vision. At the [00:38:05] end of the day, that's most important thing.

Every single day there's new questions being asked, new [00:38:10] requests coming in, and it's the manager's job to sort of take in [00:38:15] everything, organize it, prioritize it, and say, okay, what do we need [00:38:20] done today?

 Eddie Wintle: I think Colette highlighted a skill that is, of [00:38:25] the utmost importance for any representative to learn and [00:38:30] hone, which is always staying even it's a [00:38:35] huge, huge part of the job.

And it's a huge skill. there are so many [00:38:40] things that get thrown into your court that you don't expect [00:38:45] and. If you become too emotional or if you become too [00:38:50] reactionary, then that throws everything off and [00:38:55] you won't be able to survive if you don't learn how [00:39:00] to react with, with an even keeled approach always. [00:39:05]

a huge lesson, I think, for any young manager. 

  Wendy Ong: You know, I find that because I [00:39:10] work across different genres and different types of people. there is, [00:39:15] a lot to be said for like listening and adapting. 

[00:39:20] in order to be able to communicate well, like I think you [00:39:25] start off with paying attention and learning the culture [00:39:30] or the personalities, you know? And, before I start [00:39:35] speaking out, I guess if that makes sense, because that's [00:39:40] no point in having an opinion, if it's based on ignorance, you know, [00:39:45] so that's I guess my biggest, , takeaway Like it's like [00:39:50] a being a diplomat. Like your job is to [00:39:55] listen and like have a message, but you know, you can't come [00:40:00] across as.

Making someone do something like it's about diplomacy and [00:40:05] like negotiating getting everybody on the same page.  

Eddie Wintle: I [00:40:10] have one other traits that I forgot to mention  I think finding a trustworthy manager [00:40:15] can be very difficult.

And in a lot of ways that is, [00:40:20] you know, one of the most important traits that it sort of goes without saying, but it's [00:40:25] important to bring up,  you need, as an artist, you need to be able to [00:40:30] trust your manager implicitly, not just with, you know, [00:40:35] their opinions. Nobody's right a hundred percent of the time. and you need to be able to trust that [00:40:40] that person's intention is  to have your [00:40:45] best, interest in mind at the end of the day is that person's representing you. 

 [00:40:50] Steve Bursky: Yeah. Mean we, we always, encourage clients who we're speaking to [00:40:55] potential clients who were speaking to, to meet with a ton of managers while certainly we believe we are the [00:41:00] best fit, we're going to fight for them. so much of it is, is about that personal [00:41:05] relationship. 

You know, like any friendship or marriage, you know, you just, you don't really know until you get [00:41:10] into it. but they should, they need to look for someone who has a real plan and a vision. 

  Colette Patnaude: yeah. [00:41:15] like you represent the artist and the talent, and there's not [00:41:20] one way to do it. So you have to just know them so implicitly [00:41:25] as the manager. because at the end of the day. Your kind of, their [00:41:30] voice and a lot of situations. the artist of course is in touch, in high [00:41:35] contact with the label as well, but the people that they're really talking to every single day are their [00:41:40] managers.

So you just want to make sure that you feel comfortable with [00:41:45] them. And that at the end of the day, you feel that they truly believe in you and [00:41:50] your project and your work, and you know what you're trying to achieve so that they can [00:41:55] properly represent you outwardly as well. 

  Eddie Wintle: You [00:42:00] know,  look for clients that you really believe in.   it's extremely important to find [00:42:05] people that you believe in and and then once you find [00:42:10] those people to not let anything stand in your way, to try to get that, [00:42:15] that client, him or her as much successes as you possibly can,

  it [00:42:20] takes a lot of the pressure off in some ways because we really genuinely [00:42:25] believe Conan is going to have a really long career.

It's [00:42:30] more about making sure that. You know, as an artist, [00:42:35] he continues to develop and continues to put great, great things out into the [00:42:40] world. 

 Steve Bursky: I think that this is a really exciting time in our business. I really do believe [00:42:45] that, talented, young people with vision have more of an opportunity than ever [00:42:50] to leave their Mark. certainly more than everin terms of like discovering talent.  [00:42:55]Having great ideas and, and investing those ideas into something you believe [00:43:00] in. I think it's more possible than ever. And I just encourage young people [00:43:05] looking to get into business, to not wait for someone to reach out their hand with a [00:43:10] job and instead innovate, you know, be that investing time.

If there's a passion for [00:43:15] management and to a potential client or investing time into an app [00:43:20] idea that you're going to develop whatever may be, it is remarkable how often, [00:43:25] I mean, told about such and such person that I've never heard before and I've never heard them before from them before [00:43:30] cause they're 22 just graduated from college, but happened to be the one that stumbled on [00:43:35] this insert artists name here, you know?

I just think that the. The opportunity is greater than [00:43:40] ever, and don't be discouraged.  upon graduating  if there's not that perfect job for you, [00:43:45] because I think the people you had to pretend about in 10 years into the career are often the [00:43:50] people that just went out and create an opportunity for themselves. [00:43:55]

    [00:44:00]Monica Tsien: it's Monica again. I hope you enjoyed the uplifting, [00:44:05] inspiring discussion about everything from streaming to record labels, to authenticity, to what it [00:44:10] takes to be an amazing manager. I'd like to thank Eddie Collette, Steve and Wendy for [00:44:15] their time and generous advice.

 Additional. Thank you. Goes out to [00:44:20] Natalie and Emily for conducting interviews with me and to Emily for working on postproduction [00:44:25] with me and finally huge. Thank you to Tony for being an awesome DJ and [00:44:30] creating all the music you heard during this podcast.

Tony Rodriguez: Thanks. Monica, [00:44:35] thank you to Emily and Trace for an amazing first episode as well. We couldn't have asked for a better team. Big [00:44:40] shout out to our amazing professor, Jay. We had so much fun putting these new podcast episodes together. We [00:44:45] hope you got to learn something today about ours management. I know we did! Thanks for hanging with us. [00:44:50] 


 [00:44:55]Emily Redmond: That concludes today's episode of our podcast, Drop the MIC: Music Industry [00:45:00] Conversations. 

Elliot Dauber:   Thank you to all of our guests for spending their time with us and sharing their insights on the artist [00:45:05] management world. We'd also like to think Tony Rodriguez for composing this season's theme music. 

[00:45:10] Megan Aguilar: Tune in next Monday at 8:00 AM Pacific, 11:00 AM Eastern for some valuable [00:45:15] advice from some of the most accomplished executives in the music business, AKA the successful [00:45:20] people making it all happen behind the scenes. Some guests featured next time [00:45:25] are the Head of Urban Music at Columbia Records, Phylicia Fant, and the former [00:45:30] CEO of Warner Records, Cameron Strang. 

Braden Milford: Where are the students that helped put this season [00:45:35] together to hear all of our episodes, check us out on Spotify, Apple podcasts, or wherever you [00:45:40] listen to podcasts.

Elliot Dauber: To stay up to date with everything we're working on, including a playlist that features [00:45:45] all of our musical guests from Season One, and our social media accounts, where we post sneak peeks of what's to [00:45:50] come, check out our website at dropthemiccast.com.

Emily Redmond: This [00:45:55] has been Drop the MIC, thanks again for tuning in! We can't wait to share more with you next week. [00:46:00]